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Big data is an antitrust issue too, says European Commissioner

Peter Sayer | Jan. 19, 2016
Margrethe Vestager is on the lookout for antitrust issues arising from companies' use of big data -- but says it doesn't require special regulation

But, said Vestager, "This new currency brings its own challenges. It isn't always easy to know what it’s worth. The exchange rate between data and services isn't reported on the news, so it can be hard to decide how much data to give up."

Once consumers have paid the price for these free services, they start to worry about what companies will do with their personal data, and whether they will take good care of it.

Barely a quarter of people trust online businesses to protect their personal information, Vestager said, but she dismissed suggestions that market forces could, or should, fix this.

"I don't think we need to look to competition enforcement to fix privacy problems," she said, pointing to the Commission's recent rewriting of data protection law as the solution.

But, she said, "That doesn't mean I will ignore genuine competition issues just because they have a link to data."

 

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